You Keep Me Hanging On

Many years ago, when I was a young mother of two toddlers, a woman I worked with was leaving to move to Florida. I asked her if there was any particular reason she wanted to move that far away. She said….yes….to get away from my children! Me with my adorable babies could not understand why anyone could think such a thing.

By the way, in last week’s poll, more people said that their children pushed their boundaries more than anyone else.

Just sayin’.

Twenty years later, I was at a workshop. One of the things we were discussing was control. Well, the workshop was basically about improving your life….what workshop isn’t, really? But the idea of control was brought up. A couple was challenging the teacher over the issue. I guess for them, they were searching for the meaning of life as it pertained to “fixing” their teen or somewhat grown child.

At the time, I myself was looking for the meaning of life. My two sons had both moved out of the house within the same month as one was on bad terms with his father and the other didn’t want to be the only one left in the house to have to deal with the issues. And for me, I was trying everything to fill the emptiness and trying to find meaning in my marriage and life with just my spouse.

I was heartbroken and trying to piece my life together and find out who I was. How was I now supposed to define myself now that both of my sons were out of the house?

The main thing that I learned is that when you worry about someone or something, you are trying to control that person or situation. The solution to this problem is to let go. That’s it. Simple. Right?

Words make everything sound so easy. If we could just be like characters in a book and just do what it says on the page, wouldn’t life be so much easier?

But this week, I’ve been stressed. Headaches, feeling nauseous, a bit shaky, resting heart rate is climbing. Because I’ve always been the one to internalize things whenever there has been a problem in the family. So what’s up?

My older son rents from me. His room-mate just moved out. He needs a new roof. He tells me that the problem is that I retired too early and that I need to put about 4% of the value of the house back into the house each year in updates and repairs. I just bought him a new refrigerator that is better than the one I have. I needed to quit my part time job at a medical office because they were double booking patients and had no protections in place or safety plans.

I also feel that my house-mate is too intrusive. He was arranging things in my room when I was out. We had an argument. It’s time he left. But he is sick and there is Covid. My younger son has a baby son and has to leave his girlfriend’s house because they are breaking up. He doesn’t want to leave his son. She wants to see other people. Or other person. They brought the baby to camp yesterday for a birthday gathering. No masks. Road in front of camp. Lake in back of camp. Curious one year old. My little buddy. He has my heart and I worry about him all of the time. How will his parent’s break up affect him? Will he be safe? Who is this new boyfriend who he will be spending time with? All of that.

Human relationships and expenses are stressful under the best of circumstances. But with everything else that is going on in the world right now….it can feel downright claustrophobic and problems that much more emotional.

So, according to the teacher at the class I went to, worrying is about trying to control something. We all know that we can worry ourselves literally into the ground and it’s not going to change anything.

I worry about my grown kids because heart disease runs in their father’s family…..their grandfather died suddenly two days before turning 46. Their father had his first heart attack while he was at work (luckily he was awake…his father never woke up) at the age of 43. My oldest son will be 42 next month. Neither of my kids see a doctor. I nag. It does no good. I worry. I do. I get scared. I want everyone to be okay.

But I can do nothing much except say how I feel. Sometimes that does not seem like much. Especially when it feels like nobody is going to listen.

My brother lives next door to my 92 year old mother. He never wears a mask when he goes to see her…which since he is working at home is a couple of times a day. But he goes out every day to the store.

My 92 year old mom who has hearing issues doesn’t lock her back door and has the TV blaring all day. At night she locks the door but leaves her basement windows open to air out the basement. She says nobody will fit through the window and her dog will bark and scare people away.

I feel like I am the one who worries about and takes care of everyone. And by doing so, it has brought everyone closer to me in my life….like my son renting from me….and my house-mate who I have allowed to push boundaries because I can’t stand to constantly have to push back or deal with the anger when he doesn’t get what he wants.

So here I am….in the middle. Where I have put myself. Because I’m so afraid of losing the people I love and there is nothing I can do.

When I think of worry being about control, I think about AA and controlling what we are able and letting go of what we cannot. So much truth goes back to that.

And that makes me think about alcoholism and narcissism and co-dependency and scapegoats and all those nice things. And drama. Let’s not forget drama.

When I think about how I have tried to help my family over the years, and how little I have actually been able to help or change anything, I see that in many ways, everyone has their own little drama playing out.

And when I worry about the people I love, I get pulled into their drama. They aren’t fixing anything. They aren’t going to the doctor or to therapy. I’m the one who’s had cancer and am on about four meds for anxiety and depression and social anxiety. I’m the one who’s gone to therapy to help quell the internal combustions that happen.

And that’s a pretty negative place to draw from when a friend or a survivor needs a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear.

I’ve been burned out truthfully. Tonight I closed my door and laid down on my bed and covered myself up in a cocoon and thought about how peaceful a coma must feel.

I need to stop depleting myself by worrying. That is easier said than done. But, I have found that the best way to find yourself….is to lose yourself. I can’t lose myself too easily in a five room flat with a housemate, but I need to carve out space for me. I’m not saying that I overdo…..I’m saying that I overthink. And I over-worry.

I guess if you step back and look at things impartially, (Oh, God, I caaaaaaannnn’ttt) what I see is a lot of people not realizing that they are creating drama in their lives and (dammit) not listening to the voice of reason (Me, of course) and they are just going on making mistake after mistake (like I never have made a mistake or lapse in judgement)…..because unknowingly, that is all we know.

Seriously, if you have been raised with drama and dysfunction, that is the only way you know how to handle things. And I’m talking to myself here, too. What feels like losing someone….like giving up….like not loving them….is most likely co-dependency and enabling.

But I’m so close, I can’t see it.

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